Published Jul 01, 2005It's funny how one of the only "original" (i.e., non-remake or sequel) big films of the summer goes out of its way to seem, well, unoriginal. Part Blade Runner meets The Matrix, part loud commercial, Michael Bay's The Island takes a concept (futuristic cloning procedures) and uses it as an excuse to blow stuff up. Like all his films, Bay uses a unique combination of over-stylisation and an under-written screenplay. In this case, the result is a weak attempt at science fiction with enough gloss to please any of the fans of Bay's Armageddon or Bad Boys.
Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson (classy choices for leads but still disappointments) play two clones that attempt to escape a compound in which they are being kept until their outside world counterparts need them for parts (the clones are told their destiny is to travel to "the island"). They have a lengthy cat-and-mouse chase with the evil scientists, which notably include some impressive action sequences, mild sex appeal and a few great one liners from Steve Buscemi (as a good guy worker at the compound). The sets and props are also pretty nifty, but one can't help but think they've seen it somewhere before (Minority Report, anyone?).
The Island never manages to create any substance, and the whole product just seems so obvious. The themes of human rights violations (McGregor's character's name is Lincoln; could that be a reference to Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves?) come across forced, and the message about the ideas of controlled society seem contradictory when giant product placements for at least a dozen big companies run rampant throughout the film. Bay knows how to create entertainment, but when it gets any deeper than that it just sorta blows up. (Dreamworks/Universal)